Urban Green Streets: City Gardens and Greenspace

Reading Time: 2 minutes

All cities were once expanses of trees and wildlife, and, sadly, they have been paved over with concrete. Joni Mitchell said it best – ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.’ City residents are making a big effort to turn that around and bring nature back to the city and maybe slow down the hustle and bustle.

City street landscaping has generally been a line of trees along the curb, if there were any at all. Now, flower, herb and vegetable gardens are popping up along sidewalks to beautify neighborhoods.

Reasons to green your city streets

The other benefits of these city sidewalk plantings are:

  • Attract birds, bees and butterflies
  • Are beautiful
  • Produce food
  • Create community
  • Slow traffic as drivers and passengers look at the scenery
  • Increase the quality of life of passerby and residents
  • Soften the hard edges and lines of the city
  • Reduce the urban heat island effect
  • Educate children (and adults!) about nature
  • Reduce air and noise pollution
  • Increase property values

The Green Streets project is catching on in many cities, including:

… to name a few.

I’ll have details about these cities in a future series, but for now, I wanted to show you how easy it is to green up your urban neighborhood.

How to green a city street

As always, be sure to check your city zoning codes and the need for permits. Sometimes, the city will dictate the type of plants to use, so do some local government homework first.

Here are seven beautiful city sidewalks. Remember, they didn’t always look like this! The strip between the sidewalk and the curb can always use some help. This is frequently just gravel or even concrete.

Source: dwell.com via nan on Pinterest

Source: pricetags.wordpress.com via nan on Pinterest

Source: bhg.com via nan on Pinterest

This area is great for food production in raised beds or containers, too.

Source: teaandcookiesblog.com via nan on Pinterest

Planting on both sides of the sidewalk or against a wall that lines a sidewalk  are other options for urban greening.

Source: bhg.com via nan on Pinterest

Source: dwell.com via nan on Pinterest

Source: bhg.com via nan on Pinterest

Source: bhg.com via nan on Pinterest

Check out these before and after photos of San Francisco greening projects.

Adding the natural world to urban planning

You’ve got to admit, these gardens are much prettier than a slab of concrete. If you are an urban dweller and need a little nature in your life, contact your neighbors and your government about starting a garden. It is garden planning time, so act now for summer beauty.

Check my greening the sidewalks Pinterest board for more ideas. Follow it for new pins that are definitely forthcoming!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.